In the modern world of sophisticated technologies, most users are tech savvy and won't tolerate bugs in their apps and software. If users face problems like bugs, freezing issues, slow load times, security vulnerabilities, and crashes, they are likely to abandon those apps forever. It is challenging for enterprises to identify the exact reasons for these errors, as they are different in various locations and devices. Fragmentation across OS, devices, and browsers is one of the reasons for performance degradation in apps and software. To overcome such challenges, app developers and software companies need to test their apps in real conditions. Real device testing is one of the crucial mobile app testing methods adopted by many companies to enhance the performance of their apps and identify specific issues faced by their apps in certain locations or devices.
HeadSpin's core product focuses on data-driven testing and iteration to perfect the end-user experience by combining a global device infrastructure, test automation, and ML-driven performance and quality of experience analytics. Global device infrastructure is a critical component of the HeadSpin Platform, as it enables organizations to test apps from various locations and connect to thousands of real mobile and browser testing devices. These PBoxes are deployed in more than 90+ locations to enable global device infrastructure.
What is PBox?
PBox is an appliance used by HeadSpin to test applications on Android/iOS mobile phones, tablets, and media devices. The HeadSpin PBox offers a secure, portable, temperature-controlled enclosure for various devices and allows RF access to the local Wi-Fi or carrier network. PBox can accommodate mobile devices (Android and iOS), tablets, desktop browsers, and OTT devices such as Amazon Fire Stick.
With a variety of features, PBox helps app developers and QA experts to conduct functional and UX tests on real devices in real locations without compromising the security and performance of their applications.
Read: Mobile app security testing - a comprehensive guide
What is the Role of PBox in HeadSpin Architecture?
In HeadSpin architecture, app testing is done remotely with the devices placed in different facilities or on-premise as per user requirements. PBox is used to accommodate the devices. In PBox, Linux or Mac computers are connected to devices in the box. These computers are the hosts that collect the data from the devices and send it to HeadSpin Cloud Services. Users can access the data collected from the devices in PBox through the HeadSpin Platform, which is connected to the cloud. It even allows users to reverse bridge their devices into this architecture if required.
PBox plays a crucial role in this entire process, as the testing and data collection are done in it. With an uninterrupted power supply and cooling fans, it ensures that all devices are in operating condition and at ambient temperature.
Physical Characteristics of PBox
PBox is a rackmount plastic enclosure used to store mobile and media devices that are tested for performance and other parameters. Here are some of the physical characteristics of the HeadSpin PBox.
- PBox can accommodate up to 24 mobile phones or eight tablets and eight phones.
- Each PBox occupies two power outlets.
- It is 11U and requires a four-post rack that is at least 32" deep.
- It is made of the ABS FR (UL94 / V-0 Flame Resistant) material.
- It also has front-to-back fan cooling to maintain the temperature.
- It is protected with a pin code function.
Check out: Introducing the HeadSpin Audio-Visual Platform
Different Hardware Used in PBox
1. HSBT Bluetooth Audio
This Bluetooth audio hardware is placed inside PBox. It is connected to devices to collect the data related to the audio features of apps and test voice/video call features.
2. Wind Tunnel
Wind tunnels are used to maintain the temperature inside PBox to avoid the overheating of devices. Lateral cooling is provided inside the appliance with the help of cooling fans.
3. Bluetooth Human Input Device (HID)
Bluetooth human input device simulates a mouse and keyboard for devices placed inside PBox. With the help of this device, users can unlock phones and devices in PBox. This device supports mobile device management (MDM) settings for users of the HeadSpin Platform.
Also check: A Guide to Geolocation Testing for Websites and Mobile Apps
HeadSpin Deployment Models
As per users’ requirements, HeadSpin offers multiple deployment options. Given below are the main deployment models provided by HeadSpin:
1. HeadSpin Enterprise Cloud - Single Tenant
In this type of deployment, dedicated devices are deployed in PBoxes placed at HeadSpin’s facilities across global locations. Device types and locations are selected as per the users’ requirements. Customer services, configuration, data, devices, and hosts are isolated to a private subnet in the single-tenant option. This deployment type is mostly used to analyze applications in global locations and test new and existing applications in real-world scenarios.
Read: Test Native Apps with Real Device Cloud
2. HeadSpin Enterprise Cloud - Multi-Tenant
With this deployment option, HeadSpin enables its users to choose from over 300 pre-deployed devices across global locations. Users can access shared devices deployed in the HeadSpin enterprise shared pool. This deployment type is used when users do not have specific demands on locations, devices, or telecom networks on which tests have to be done.
3. HeadSpin Create Your Own Lab (CYOL)
This deployment option is the industry's only reverse bridge solution. Users can get uninterrupted local access to remote devices with HeadSpin's reverse bridge technology, and it offers a convenient way to organize and utilize the existing device investment. In this type of deployment, the test device is not required to be physically plugged into PBox, as users can connect their devices to the HeadSpin Cloud through local machines. Mainly, users who have already invested in devices and need better ways to manage their DevOps process select the HeadSpin Create Your Own Lab deployment option.
4. HeadSpin On-Prem
In this deployment type, HeadSpin deploys PBox with all devices at users’ premises. The HeadSpin PBox is deployed into an isolated network managed entirely by the user. With this type of deployment, users can ensure that no traffic leaves their isolated network. The HeadSpin On-Prem deployment also offers the flexibility of deploying PBoxes in specific locations, like specific buildings and network end zones.
Also read: Why is Real Device Cloud Critical in App Testing?
Under the HeadSpin On-Prem deployment model, HeadSpin offers two models, namely, cloud-connected and air-gapped models.
- Cloud-connected Model: In the cloud-connected model, PBoxes are connected to the HeadSpin AWS, using which software updates are delivered in a self-contained installer that runs on the unified controller inside the isolated network. In this model, users will be hosted in a virtual private cloud VPC that does not share VPN or credentials with other HeadSpin systems.
- Air-gapped Model: The unified controller that hosts UI and user data is deployed on-prem blade server in the air-gapped model. HeadSpin uses a VPN tunnel for remote access to the testing environment for upgrades, debugging, and support. However, users of the HeadSpin Platform will have the option to enable/disable access to the VPN tunnel in this model.
According to Android, currently, there are more than 24,000 different Android smartphones in the market. With these many devices, the possibility of Andriod fragmentation is high, leading to more bugs in these devices. Real device cloud testing is the only solution to this problem, as testers can analyze and detect bugs and errors in real time with this testing.
The HeadSpin PBox ensures that mobile app testing in real-world conditions is done with 100% efficiency. With PBox’s unique features, HeadSpin can consistently offer AI-based test insights for enterprises.
1. What is HeadSpin Server Blade?
Ans: HeadSpin Server Blade is a rackmount enclosure containing host computers and USB hubs. It connects to devices in HeadSpin appliances through USB cables, making them available for testing on the HeadSpin Platform.
2. What are the steps involved in the deployment process of PBox for hosting devices at client premises?
- The client provides configuration specifications
- The HeadSpin team configures PBoxes as per the technical specifications
- The team ships PBox to the client’s location
- The client team plugs in PBoxes on their premises
- Maintenance and upgrades are done regularly by the HeadSpin team
- The client manages PBox operation and device replacement
3. Do HeadSpin PBoxes require maintenance?
Ans: Yes. HeadSpin will be doing periodic maintenance, upgrades, troubleshooting, etc. Light touch management of PBoxes should be done by users, like device plug-in, hard reset, etc.
4. What are the prerequisites for setting up a PBox at client premises?
Ans: For setting up a PBox, the client needs to:
- Add hostnames and service names to their internal DNS
- Allocate local static IP for hosts
- Provide the Apple developer account where iOS devices will be registered (Not required if iOS devices are not being used)